Om Malik posted a fascinating piece about eBay pushing Skype as the standard protocol for “click-to-call”, the process of clicking on a hyperlink to initiate a VoIP call. As I mentioned last week, Skype’s push of its proprietary protocol for click-to-call is as if Yahoo decided to introduce a separate standard for HTTP circa 1994. Imagine if half of all hyperlinks started with “http:” while the other half started with “yahoo:”. Every browser and every web server would have to implement both. SIP is today’s HTTP. It powers VoIP with the almost singular exception of Skype. Its well-architected and widely implemented in open source projects, just like HTTP was 10 years ago.
The picture gets uglier. Skype is a proprietary protocol. EBay is pushing this standard to lock out all the other players. Imagine if we only had one web browser and one web server from a single company today because the protocols they were proprietary. This would have set the Internet back years.
I predict this attempt will fail. It ignores the importance of open protocols as the glue of the Internet, as the bedrock for the competition that makes it all work. While the Internet is built on Apache and Linux, it’s also built on the IETF.